From Daydreamer to Doer: How I Motivate Myself to Stay on the Grind

I first crossed paths with Julie when she contributed to the article How to Quit Your Job and Become a Digital Nomad: 35 Experts Share. She’s an awesome entrepreneur and speaker who has certainly embraced the digital nomad lifestyle. You can learn more about her latest projects at And now, here’s her post on how to maintain motivation as a digital nomad. Enjoy!

Before I became a digital nomad, I used to daydream about it. But now, I’ve totally pulled that whole digital nomad thing off. Yay, me!

But now what do I daydream about? Everything, especially the next things for me to do, see, and experience.

Beyond the fantasies, there are ample distractions to keep me away from the computer: the sights and sounds of a new city to a favorite street fair to a unique dining experience. Because of this, the biggest issue I have as a digital nomad is how I manage to actually get down to business. But I do it, and you can too.

Give yourself permission to goof off

When I was freelancing, and then again when I launched my agency, it was super easy to stay on the grind. It was so exciting! Everything was new to me and presented a challenge. It wasn’t giving permission; instead I was forcing myself to goof off to avoid burn out.

But now I can sometimes feel a bit guilty about taking breaks when there are deadlines approaching and work that still needs to be done. It just so happens that there always is more work, and I can’t stay at it all the time. The time away from work is necessary to keep on keepin’ on at a high level, so I tell myself it’s absolutely okay to have a little fun… because it is!

Keep a schedule

It’s too easy to end up living (and working) aimlessly sans schedule. If you get lost in your work, you could end up missing out on all the fun things you could to do, but it’s far more likely you’ll get distracted by the fun stuff and not give yourself enough time to grind away at your to-do list. For each working day, I pinpoint my priorities (personal and professional), and then schedule work and/or play around them accordingly.

Not only does this help me find the time to “do it all,” it also helps me see the light at the end of the tunnel. A three-hour block of work on a particularly tough task seems much more doable when I know I have all afternoon to do whatever I want, just as soon as I’m done.

Remember before

I don’t know what you were doing before you took the show on the road (or what you’re doing now, if you aren’t location independent), but I know what I was doing. And while I liked things well enough, I definitely wasn’t satisfied.

While the actual state of affairs varied by the season, I was normally on my feet all day waiting tables or making drinks or explaining to casino patrons that I could only bring them one comped beer at a time. I sometimes was working two or three jobs and took on freelance gigs, but I just couldn’t get ahead… or away from my student loans. I was tired, poor, and felt like I had no control over my life, and knowing that I don’t want to live like that again helps to keep me on my toes.

Love what you do

If you don’t like what you’re doing, working independently and staying on the grind is going to be near impossible. The work will feel torturous, and throwing yourself into it will be one of that last things you want to do. But conversely, if you love what you do, it will be so much easier to keep your head down and get down to business. This is one of the reasons Team Impressa has started to be more selective with the types of assignments we take on—if it’s something we don’t like to do, we probably don’t do it well, so we pass.

Have something to daydream about

You don’t have to stop daydreaming altogether. Actually, keep it up. Have goals and aspirations—the next steps or the next big thing—and actively think about them. Picture what it will look and feel like as you work toward and achieve your big, hairy, honking audacious goals.

Of course, daydreaming alone isn’t going to do it! But all of that thought energy should give you greater insight into what you are trying to achieve and what you need to do to make things happen.

And these daydreams give you a reason to stay on the grind, too! You have to keep at it with what you have going on or you can’t get on the next latest and greatest whatever it is that you want to do, explore, or achieve.

About the author: Julie Ewald is a speaker and mentor who has helped many make the shift to becoming a successful freelancer or digital nomad. She has been location independent since 2011—first as a freelancer and now as the CEO and Creative Director of Impressa Solutions. Her website is a resource for current and aspiring freelancers, digital nomads, entrepreneurs, and anyone interested in a location independent career


Rob is enthusiastic about everything related to money and investing. A financial analyst and instructor, he enjoys using what he’s learned from 10 years of studying business and money to help others achieve financial stability. He founded Money Nomad in 2014!

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  1. Love what you do, that’s such necessary advice. If I didn’t love talking about personal finance, I would not be motivated to spend the extra hours on the blog that I am currently. It’s the only thing that’s keeping me going (as I text my friend periodically of how blogging is slowly burning me out). I don’t think I will ever give up on blogging, can’t stop grinding especially in my 20’s!

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